04 Oct 2021 13:09:47
I can't help but feel that you're all setting yourselves up to this way of thinking. Every week its just a cycle of - Redmond again? Walcott? 2 deep lying midfielders? KWP at left back? There must be a conspiracy, a catch, a behind the scene machination or now, in absence of those ideas going far enough, now you've decided to question RH's sanity. Because clearly, he must be clinically insane. If we lose, you hold it up as proof that your theory is right without any context or objectivity.

Being winless thus far is disappointing and a little concerning, but in our 7 games, we have played both Manchester clubs, Chelsea (who will likely challenge for the title this season and are the reigning European Champions), Everton and West Ham, both away and both of whom will likely finish in the top 10 this season.

RH does of course choose who he wants to play and what formation, as does every other manager. I have no idea why that would be suggested as a reason to doubt his sanity. No doubt on the back of training and performances, he has specific tasks for each player to fulfil and on the whole, he has been happy with our defensive efforts. Our weakness this season has been in attack and he is tweaking the personnel up top to try and find the solution.

On Saturday, a reminder we were playing away to the reigning European Champions who have started the season well, the formation and personnel were recognisable and this was a game where defensive resilience was likely to be the focus. Chelsea were likely to dominate possession and we would look to use the speed of Tella, Armstrong, Redmond and Walcott for swift counters.

We were outplayed in the first half and Chelsea deserved their lead. At half time, rather than putting his underpants on his head, inserting two pencils up his nostrils and uttering no other word than 'wibble', RH identified the weakness in the formation and changed us to a 3-4-3/ 5-3-2 formation that was a closer match to Chelsea's. Diallo was brought on to make our midfield more progressive. This worked well and the game was more balanced in the second half. As we have seen earlier in the season, RH is capable of identifying issues and making substitutions and tweaks to the formation that help to tilt games in our favour, even against the top opposition the league has to offer.

What would have happened to the result if JWP hadn't been sent off, no-one knows. It was a valid red card. Moan about Mike Dean all you want, but it was. When you take off and slide in with the force of your full body weight, studs showing and you catch someone, its reckless and endangers the safety of the other player. There doesn't need to be malice or intent. Just recklessness.

Without doubt, the sending off turned the game back in Chelsea's favour. They play in a wide formation and the two goals we did concede late on will be remembered for the excellent Chelsea play that led to them, rather than a glaring defensive error by a Saints player.

So I simply do not understand the crowing posts of 'I told you so' as Saints lost to Chelsea. A draw wouldn't have been good enough as a draw apparently wasn't good enough against Man Utd or Man City. Do you really expect Saints to win these games? Is that the only result that will disprove your view of the players/ manager? Or would even a win mean that the result was achieved despite the obvious flaws in the team and manager that you point out every week. Thus, your view is cast. Set in stone. Irrevocable.

In which case, why bother posting it every week? To have the same handful of posters agree with your thoughts? Does that make it right?

I posted last week that I too have concerns about the formation, the players, but these are small tweaks that need to be made. Last season, we were so focused on attack, we forgot how to defend and we lost badly most weeks in the second half of the season. RH seems to have rectified this balance, as we are conceding fewer goals. Brilliant. The down side is that we still aren't scoring freely. Is that a personnel issue, a formation issue or both? That's for RH to solve and he deserves time and patience in which to do it.

I hold hope along with other posters that JWP's dismissal and suspension will encourage experimentation with the formation and personnel. We could play a 3-4-3/ 5-3-2 formation which could get the best out of the squad we have. It might only work against certain teams. It might not work at all. We'll have to wait and see.

Maybe Perraud isn't playing because he's new to the league and the country and needs time to settle. Maybe RH has seen Man City succeed along with other teams in Europe, playing an inside full back (a right-footed left back) and doesn't see being right footed alone as a reason to keep one of our best players of last season out of the team, nor replace an exciting new player from this season in Tino. Its unquestionable that Tion's performances have been more striking than Perraud's.

The 4-2-2-2 formation precludes moving Tino or KWP forward on the right as the wide positions in this formation are very attacking and are unfamiliar to both defenders. Just because both can attack doesn't mean its their main strength.

Its a shame that Perraud misses out at the moment, not least because question marks remain over KWP's ability to perform the new role, but KWP is an important and influential player and Tino has made a great start. Perraud will get opportunities. As will Tella. Diallo will hopefully get a good spell in the side now and JWP can actually have a bit of time to recover from the injuries he is carrying, that I knew nothing about until the end of last week.

The point is that whilst there are concerns, we are seven games in and have played 3 of the best teams in the league and 2 who will finish higher than us. We have done ok, but need to start winning to feel more comfortable. Most of last season there were calls for RH's head and I said then as I do now, its premature. We weren't relegated last season, despite the predictions on here that we would be. I still believe we will stay up this season, again despite predictions on here we were doomed before a ball had been kicked. Surely that in itself should underline the folly in writing the team off early and criticising every week before the game has been played, only to use whatever the result as evidence of your argument. The season will be another long one but that is not a surprise given we have no real marquee signings to improve us from last year. So let's just take a breath and see where we are at midseason.

1.) 04 Oct 2021
04 Oct 2021 17:56:28
I wasn’t going to reply to your post as it was filled with rather a lot of rhetoric and some slight misrepresentations of posts on here. So my answer is from my point of view and no ones else’s.

RH team selection : MY continual criticism here is simple. Of course Ralph is allowed to pick the players he wants! But Ralph is picking favourites. He is picking players regardless of contribution to team or form.
And yes Redmond is mentioned repeatedly by me. Why? Because he does not contribute enough to the team in any way. His shooting is poor, his desire to shoot and not pass is awful, his holding up of play is poor. He breaks up more of our own attacks than he adds to them.

He is excellent at pointing to where our player should mark someone while not marking anyone. All facts and no emotion in that reply. He is simply a passenger in the game.

Djenepo : I’m sure you’ve read his stats; attacking contribution non existent, end product non existent.

JWP and Romeu : can we really afford to have these two on the pitch. Both slow and yes Romeu is excellent at breaking up play IF he hasn’t been caught out of position and IF he times his tackle well. JWP playing deep too.
But these two players contribution to attack have been virtually zero, no through balls, no over the top balls.

Yes we have stopped leaking goals, but we are playing a back four with two guarding them.

But we are not going to survive with draws, we need to win games and not just the odd one. Ralph may be tweaking the front line, but does Redmond warrant a place ahead of Adams and Broja up front? Absolutely not and that is where my point comes in repeatedly, Ralph is playing his favourites. So yes he played Tella out wide against Chelsea, so Redmond goes up front ahead of Adams?
He can tweak the front line as much as he wants, but service to front men is awful. He needs to sort out distribution to the front men or it matters not who is up front!

As it stands our service to the front is relying on two wing backs because it’s not coming from our midfield/ wingers.

As for playing KWP out of position, firstly kwp does not like playing there. But it also slows us down as he has no left foot so has to come inside every time he wants to cross. Perraud has settled in nicely and is an excellent crosser of the ball, especially from deeper where he pings balls in perfectly.

Bottom line is, we are not winning and I see nothing in our pattern of play that is creating those openings. If we stick to the two deep midfield players, Walcott, Djenepo and Redmond our wing players, we may hold on for draws, but we won’t win as service is atrocious to our front men.

Ralph needs to start changing our formation/ team based on opponents.! Keep the strength in midfield when playing the City’s, Chelsea etc but you didn’t mention the wolves game? We played the same formation. ? Playing a team that should have been a good chance of our first win, we set up like we were playing Chelsea!

So yes I categorically feel Ralph has players he chooses regardless of opponents, players he seems reluctant to drop, even if that is due to tactical reasons.

We are predictable, slow and boring!

2.) 04 Oct 2021
04 Oct 2021 19:18:43
Spot on SHR…
To be honest I was slightly irritated by what felt like an admonishment from Elfigo to posters who are fed up with what is going on. Elfigo, you write with an air of superiority which is probably unintentional but so far as I am concerned you are defending the indefensible. I generally enjoy your posts, as they are measured and reflective.
However, your fingers should be pointed at the incompetence we are seeing on a regular basis.
It’s not just about being only 7 games in (by the way, that did for the Watford manager) but a pattern of ludicrous decision making over time.
Let’s not forget the two 9-0 hammering sun successive seasons either or the woeful cup semi-final.
I stand by my criticism - I deserve the right to my opinions after 40 years of being a season ticket holder, which I grant are sometimes emotive in the immediacy of inept performances
But come on, how can you possibly defend Redmond?
And how can you be so accepting of mediocracy and the predictability of it all. Football is about winning matches or die trying. We don’t do either.

3.) 05 Oct 2021
05 Oct 2021 00:45:55
Thank you Millertime!
I was there in 76 . I was there in 66, taken to the games by my dad, stood on a stool that dad was allowed to bring into the ground . so yes I have Saints running through my veins!
Yes there was a sense of superiority from elfigo? Almost like it was written from within the club .

Ralph was given total control of the teams within the club, writing ‘the book’ . but what is clearly lacks is flexibility, the ability to adjust the formation, the tactics, the players, based on opponents. He played the same formation against wolves as he did against Chelsea?

His decision to play kwp at left back, i believe, has nothing to do with the fact that other top clubs play a right sided player at left back, and all to do with Ralph’s belief in himself!
Rather than play a superb left back he’d rather keep a right back happy! Even though I know kwp is not happy!

As for accepting mediocrity and revisiting Ralph’ and the teams performance many games later. why? What will change? Ralph will still play Romeu and JWP every game, will still play Redmond and Djenepo.

Because like some old school teacher, he has favourites!
Our attacking is awful! Full stop!

4.) 05 Oct 2021
05 Oct 2021 03:09:31
I find the different viewpoints quite fascinating. As one who has both praised and criticised RH over the past couple of seasons I will agree with other posters that history shows that favourites were continually selected regardless of form ( Long Bertrand Hoedt Redmond Walcott) and even Ward-Prowse& Romeu when their form has dipped. Various substitutions we’re also very questionable. I also believe that a speedy attacking midfield who can open up defences and release forwards is very critical. Diallo (speed of thought) was an example. on Saturday. I believe that the suggestion of playing a right footed fullback in preference to PERRAUD would alarm the Directors considering that just weeks prior had authorised millions to be spent on a left footed fullback to replace Bertrand! . However steady improvements have occurred because of a combination of Ralph finally changing his thinking and player injuries have partially dictated the outcome. However at the end of the day SUCCESS is what we all wish for!

5.) 05 Oct 2021
05 Oct 2021 12:52:30
Whilst I partly agree with what you've written here Figo. In that we've had a tough start to the season (in terms of our fixture schedule) . And the results against both Manchester clubs were GOOD and unexpected results from my perspective. It goes deeper than what has just been happening this season.

Our form in 2021 has been absolutely woeful and we've been a very dull team to watch. We don't create enough chances, the same players, play week in week out, yet don't justify their selection on the pitch. I mentioned on a previous post with the catch-22 that is Redmond and Djenepo.

Even when you watch Ralph on the sidelines, something doesn't quite look right. He's lost his enthusiasm that he brought with him when he first joined. He looks exhausted and frustrated now. And as fans, we're now frustrated.

6.) 05 Oct 2021
05 Oct 2021 16:35:52
Just to clarify as its not the first time its been suggested, I am not a voice from within Southampton FC, just a fan as you all are. I don't mean to say you're not entitled to your views or that your thoughts or feelings are invalid. I'm simply concerned that when the team sheet comes out pre-game, the forecast is bleak and sometimes it seems that no matter the result, the review of the game is equally so.

I share your frustrations at the style of play at the moment, our form and performance levels at times. But I also see good moments of play not quite rewarded with the goal they deserve, good performances like those against City and United that we could have nicked all 3 points from. The fragile and panicked defending of last season when we were as soft as butter has gone. I totally agree that the compromise is to our attack at the moment, but that is not entirely the reason for our lack of goals.

I think when Ings left, rather than piling all the pressure on a new striker to replace him, the expectation is that the attackers will work as a unit to share the goals amongst them this season. A. Armstrong has been brought in as a goalscorer and will be looking to reach double figures. As will Adams. But Redmond, Djneppo, S. Armstrong and Tella will all need to contribute too, along with JWP from set pieces and pens. I hope Broja will get a few too, but he remains a Chelsea player and I think its key to get our own players firing, rather than relying on external help at this stage. previous seasons show that there are goals in this team. Its now on them and RH to find the solution to the problem.

I do think RH changes the team to challenge the opponent each week. I think Redmond was selected as a forward on Saturday, not only due to his speed with the ball, but also to link up play in transition from defence to attack when we were likely to be stuck with numbers behind the ball. His holding up of play can often be frustrating as it allows opponents back, but it also boosts our numbers in the opposition half too, creating more options and more teammates close to the ball to react and press should we suffer a turnover.

It wasn't working as well as hoped so RH changed it and we were better for it. But Chelsea's formation is used by only a couple of other clubs in the league. The majority utilising a 4-3-3. Some stick with a 4-4-2. So while the adapted formation worked against Chelsea, it might not against Leeds or Watford. RH does favour a 4-2-2-2 and he does have favourites, as pretty much every manager does. But he has also demonstrated the capacity to change the system and the personnel before the game or mid-game to try and address any negative imbalance. I don't believe RH is as poor a manager or as deranged as he's made out to be. I do think he is overly committed to a system which, as time goes on, continues to demonstrate its flaws, but he deserves time to address this.

Firing a manager is always seen as a quick fix to a struggling team but quite often, the impact is limited. It may have been tongue in cheek to compare us to Watford, but I would much rather be a club with a focus on sustainable stability and growth than one with an itchy trigger finger always one bad run away from rolling the dice on the next fresh face to try and turn the tide.

There are so many players listed as being inadequate or ill-suited at times, but our squad is small and our alternatives are usually a step down. For example, if we do play a 4-2-2-2 in our next game, it may be with Jack Stephens deputising for JWP (if he's fit) or Diallo. Neither are particularly suited to the role and will likely struggle. I therefore hope that RH will rather use the opportunity to experiment with formations and personnel so we'll have to wait and see.

But look at our teamsheet and consider honestly how many of our attacking players would get into a top 10 side. S Armstrong when in full flourish, perhaps. But no-one else in my view. Tella and A Armstrong may come good, but that's hope rather than expectation. Hell, consider the same for any other position for that matter. We have no real stars. We have good players in several positions, but certainly not wall to wall across the pitch. That's the reality. For this team to achieve what it has in playing those bigger clubs is good. Its not an acceptance of mediocrity, its an acknowledgement of where we are as a club. We have a manager and a squad capable of competing at this level and with a target of mid-table. Do I want more? Yes. Can we achieve that this season? No.

Firing RH isn't going to make Redmond, Djneppo, Walcott, Adams, Romeu, JWP, McCarthy, Stephens any better. At least not in the short term. Even beyond that its unlikely that all of them would improve. These are our players. This is our squad.

My view of Saints is therefore hopeful, but accepting of the fact that we are closer to the likes of Burnley at the moment than a top 10 club. Maybe we are stuck in a rut with a manager who has taken us as far as we can like Sean Dyche. I think this season will tell us that. But I don't believe the board are anywhere close to considering his position. So calling for his head so soon will only lead to more frustration as its not going to happen. You're right that draws alone will not be enough so if we carry on as we are, RH will deserve to lose his job as he has failed to address the poor results. In the very least though, let's see how we get on against Watford and Burnley etc in the coming weeks and see how the club responds.

7.) 05 Oct 2021
05 Oct 2021 16:51:13
Saintjay . I won’t ramble on but come back to you on one point only you raised. Ralph ‘doesn’t look quite right’ ‘exhausted’ ‘frustrated’ .

I think he just doesn’t understand why his way is not working, I think he believed in himself so much (and I did too), that he is lost…

He was so adamant that he be given the reins to all things football, to change the way all levels played to the ‘Ralph Way’ that now all levels are performing badly, rather than take a step back and think ‘maybe I’m wrong’, he chooses to keep doing the same things.

Let’s use Djenepo as an example. One poster commented that he did track back and help out in defence, well that’s not what his role is, that is a secondary role. These stats show that his contribution to the attacking phase is poor. One goal in two years; one successful cross per 9 games, one assist per 25 games…
It’s there for all to see, these stats don’t lie. His performances absolutely mirror these stats. But Ralph continues to pick him regularly, he brings him in a sub?
Absolutely no sensible reason. He is simply not good enough.

His stats :

Premiership games : 51
Assists : 2
Goals. : 3
Crosses to team. : 6
Failed crosses : 28.

8.) 05 Oct 2021
05 Oct 2021 17:23:50
As a premier league manager you should always pick your strongest side regardless of opposition. Unfortunately Ralph doesn't do that. He picks players like Walcott, Djenepo and Redmond week in week out when everyone else can see that they barely deserve a seat on the bench. It's no good saying " you should see how well they trained this week " if they're not showing up on match day. I can understand the likes of Tella and Perraud getting a little disillusioned seeing others playing in front of them when in my opinion they should be 2 of the first names on the team sheet along with Livramento. I think that our next 6 games will determine Ralph's future as manager of Southampton FC. 3 or 4 victories and he'll probably keep his job but anything less than that he'll be looking over his shoulder.

9.) 06 Oct 2021
05 Oct 2021 22:05:03
Teejaysaint absolutely spot on!
Perraud didn’t go from being the best left back in the french league, multiple quality teams chasing him, us signing him, to being benched with a right back taking his place. The knock on effect is severe; other potential signings will look at how we have treated Perraud and think, I’m not signing .
Tella regarded as the hottest academy prospect for a very long time . and what does Ralph do, bench him .
Something about not getting far enough forward?

The last two games I didn’t watch live; the first time in seasons I thought, what’s the point it will be same ol same
Ol …
It was .